Web sites—like all fresh produce, cheese, meat or milk—have expiration dates. Usually these other items will start to smell bad to warn of their impending demise, but how can one tell if a brand’s web presence is starting to become a little stale? Determining a web site’s expiration date is not as complicated as one might think. If it has been a couple of years since the last update, or there is still a counter on the bottom of the homepage, it is probably time for a new web site. As one of the first impressions of your brand, the web site must remain fresh and relevant to prospects and clients alike. Too often, however, marketers have Ron Popeil’s “set it and forget it” attitude about their site—once launched, they neglect this powerful marketing tool. Humans are wired to detect visual stimulation and change–that’s why marketers change product packaging of your favorite brands every six months, often to signify a “New” or “Improved” formula, size, or offering. Your brand also consists of packaged products or services, and updating the graphics, navigation and content of your web site signals change, evolution and continued relevance. Besides becoming visually “dated,” older web sites can fall behind the technology curve as well. The ways in which people access and consume information has changed—smart phones and tablets have become increasing popular for business and leisurely browsing. Given that the majority of these devices are Apple’s iPods, iPads, and iPhones, it is important that web sites use CSS, responsive design principles, and HTML5 for video instead of Flash (which won’t display on these iOS devices). Finally, updating a brand’s web site also increases web traffic. It gives customers a reason to check out your web presence, generating excitement and word-of-mouth marketing. While you’re at it, be sure to sign up for Google Analytics… it’s free, and the code that is added will allow you to track which web pages are being viewed the most, for how long, and where visitors are coming from. Using this information, it is possible to further refine the brand’s messaging and become even more relevant to the target audience. All marketing materials have a useful lifespan. For web sites, no more than 2–3 years should elapse between major updates to the content, messaging and visuals. Is your web presence in danger of expiring soon? By: Ryan Hembree, Principal | Brand and Creative Strategy, Indicia Design, Inc.